Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Page 20 of 47« First...10«1819202122»3040...Last »

3/16/2011

Las Vegas is more than just stair climbing

Filed under: — stan @ 6:55 am

Here’s the rest of our weekend in Las Vegas.

On the way out, we stopped off in Primm to ride the Desperado roller coaster. We’d seen this last year, and since Lucinda and I have gotten into riding roller coasters, I wanted to try it. It was a whole lot bigger than California Screamin’, and the track was a lot rougher, but it was still fun.

Saturday afternoon, we went to see the Atomic Testing Museum. That was a fun time, and I highly recommend it.

On Saturday evening, we had dinner and then went to a wedding. Javier is one of the top stair climbers, and he was getting married at the chapel at the top of the Stratosphere Tower. All the top stair climbers were there. It was a nice time, and he looked very pleased. And no, we didn’t all take the stairs up to the chapel.

On Sunday after the race, we went over to Randy’s house, which is very close to the Stratosphere. Then we all went to Luv-It Frozen Custard. This is apparently a local favorite, and after trying it, I can see why. It was very, very good.

Finally, on our way out of town, we stopped off at New York New York and rode the roller coaster there. That one was smoother than the Desperado. It had a loop like California Screamin’, and it also had a barrel roll, which I’d never done before. That was a fun time.

After all that, we headed home. It was a very fun weekend.

3/15/2011

Kilotons o’ fun

Filed under: — stan @ 5:35 pm

On Saturday afternoon after the stair climb, we paid a visit to the the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas. Since I like to collect Cold War memorabilia, this was right up my alley.

They had a special exhibit there about Las Vegas during the Cold War. Apparently, the nuclear tests going on just over the mountains were a big tourist draw. In the exhibit, they had a mannequin that had been nuked in one of the tests where they built towns out on the test site to see how ordinary houses would stand up to nuclear attack. They also had other artifacts from the 1950s nuclear testing era, and overall, it was a very entertaining collection.

Of course they had a gift shop. I got a DVD of a film about Lookout Mountain Air Force Station, which was the top-secret Air Force film studio that filmed all the atomic tests. We went to see that on a bike club ride last year. I also got a shirt with a picture of Miss Atomic Bomb 1957, and a couple of other little things.

All told, this was a very interesting and entertaining museum. It’s affiliated with the Smithsonian, which I find tremendously amusing, since it’s very hard to believe that anything in Las Vegas could be worthy of the august Smithsonian.

One quarter million…

Filed under: — stan @ 6:20 am

The M9.0 Tohoku Earthquake in Japan last Friday has caused a spike in interest in earthquakes. That’s pushed the USGS Earthquake Notification Service, also known as my Pet Project, past its latest milestone.

Yesterday, I saw that ENS had passed 250,000 subscribers. It still amazes me that something I invented is used by so many people worldwide.

After the M7.2 Sierra El Mayor Earthquake last year, it processed about 700 earthquakes and sent 4,600,000 messages. But at that time, that was enough that the system ground to a halt under the load. This time, the system ran fine the whole time. I checked the logs, and in the first 24 hours after the Tohoku Earthquake, it processed 308 events and sent about 4,500,000 messages about them. I’d done some re-architecture of the database last year to increase its performance, and the system ran fine this time.

3/13/2011

Viva La Staircase

Filed under: — stan @ 11:39 pm

This past weekend was the “Scale the Strat” stair climb up the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas. I did this last year, and it was a fun little adventure. To add some extra interest this time, Kathleen decided to try doing it, too.

We headed out on Friday afternoon and got checked in at the Stratosphere. When Saturday morning came, we were ready. We got our numbers and got ready to go. There had been some concern that they weren’t going to let me use my metronome on the climb, since they said that they were not allowing cameras, mp3 players and other such things on the climb. But I found the tower operations manager and showed her my metronome. She said that as long as it was attached to me and not hand-held, and it didn’t obstruct my hearing, that it was all right. So I was good to go.

There were a lot more people doing the climb this year, and they had start times scheduled every 40 seconds from 11:00AM all the way to almost 2:00PM. I don’t know how they arrived at the order, but they had Kathleen going at 11:20, and I wasn’t scheduled to go until 1:24. So I got to see her off and then watched her progress on the monitor. They had cameras at the start and the finish, and also at about the 1/3 and 2/3 marks. I could tell that she was slowing down toward the top, but she kept going and made it up in 29:17, which is not bad for essentially no training at all.

When it was my turn to go, I turned on my metronome, which I set at 80 in a fit of optimism. And it was time to go. I’d read a paper about the fire safety design of the tower, and so I knew that there were enlarged landings at the 1/3 and 2/3 marks going up the tower core. This was useful, since they made for good landmarks. 1/3 of the tower is about the equivalent of 17-18 stories of a regular building, so the thirds made for manageable chunks of climbing.

About halfway up, I scraped my foot on the edge of one of the steps. I didn’t think anything of it, but when I was about halfway up that flight, I looked down and saw that the timing chip had fallen off my shoe. I looked back and saw it lying on the last landing. So I quickly ran back and picked it up. I carried it for a while before I figured out I could stuff it under my watch band. That set me back by at least 10 seconds, and possibly a bit more, but I managed to keep going and keep my pace. At the top I made a point to reach down and put my hand near the mat to be sure it would pick up the chip ID. Then I stumbled through the doorway and got down on the floor. I talked to the people running the computer to be sure they’d picked up my chip ID before I hauled myself out to a chair to sit down.

My time was 11:20, which turned out to be good for 28th out of 234 finishers, and it was also 15 seconds faster than my time from last year. So that was good, although I still wish I hadn’t had the chip-falling-off problem. Anyway, I made it into the top 50, so I qualified for the finals on Sunday.

On Sunday morning, I got ready to do it again. This time, I set the metronome on 76 in hopes that I’d be able to keep up with it better. My calculations said that that pace would still get me a good time if I could maintain it. I remembered this time to start my stopwatch at the beginning. My plan was do make the 1/3 mark by 3 minutes, the 2/3 mark at 6, and the top of the tower core at 9. Then the last 6 or so floors up to the observation deck would take whatever they took. But I’d figured out that the tower core climb is just about 725 feet, which is almost exactly the same height as the Wilshire-Figueroa building that I climbed in 8:42 last December. So I thought that this was a reasonable goal. Sadly, this was not to be. I made it to the 2/3 mark on schedule, but then my legs turned to lead and I kind of fell apart. I managed to keep moving, but it was a real struggle the rest of the way. In the end, I got to the top in 11:23, which is still faster than I went last year, but it wasn’t as fast as I know I’m capable of going.

So in the end, I was 3rd in my age group, just like last year. I can’t complain too much about that. All in all, it was a good adventure.

3/5/2011

Still my favorite art museum

Filed under: — stan @ 7:52 pm

Today, Kathleen and I went downtown to the Museum of Neon Art to see their new exhibit for the 30th anniversary of the museum. And there was a special extra this time, too. They had a small exhibit in the lobby of night photos of neon, and I had two pictures that were in it. So now, not only is MONA my favorite art museum, I actually got to participate in the exhibits in my own small way. And that’s good fun.

2/28/2011

There’s nothing cuter than baby seals

Filed under: — stan @ 10:39 pm

This past weekend, Kathleen, Lucinda and I took a trip to San Diego. We went down on Saturday morning, and after lunch with Grandpa, we went to the cove and saw the baby seals. The pupping season for the seals runs from the end of January to the beginning of March, so we wanted to see the newborn seals on the beach.

It was a fun time. There were quite a few babies there, and I was able to get some good pictures.

After seeing the seals, we walked over to Sunny Jim Cave and took the walk down the tunnel to the cave.

It was a fun weekend.

The seal pictures are here:

baby seal

Lucinda’s pictures from the weekend are in her photo album.

2/27/2011

A veritable walk in the park

Filed under: — stan @ 10:16 pm

As part of our weekend in San Diego, I managed to convince both Lucinda and Kathleen to try a stair climb. The Lung Association had one there at the Omni Hotel downtown. It was a short one – only 31 stories. And as I always say, “How hard could it be?”

We went down there on Sunday morning and got our numbers. Then we wandered around a bit before we found the starting line, which was a the back door outside behind the hotel’s main entrance. There was a group of firemen in full gear getting ready to go. They let me go ahead of them, although a few had already started up. I went first, and Lucinda and Kathleen started just after me.

I caught and passed the firemen about halfway up. I also passed a couple of other people. I’d set my metronome on 90. I figured I needed to crank the pace up, since the race was so short.

I thought that the finish line was on 32, so I’d planned on starting my final sprint to the finish at the landing just above 30. But then it turned out that the finish was on 31, so I only got in a short burst at the end before I came out at the top. I took in the view for a couple of minutes before Lucinda and Kathleen got there. They both said that it wasn’t as hard as they’d expected.

After that, we all went back down to the bottom to see the results. My time was 4:03, which was all right, but not spectacular. For a long time, I was in second place in the 50-59 group, but then two guys in the last group to climb beat my time and pushed me down to 4th. So no medal for me this time. But Lucinda got one. Her time was 7:13, and that was good for 3rd place in the 10-19 age group.

Overall, it was a fun time.

Results are here: raceresults.eternaltiming.com/index.cfm/20110227_Fight_For_Air_Stair_Climb_-_San_Diego.htm


2/21/2011

Yo Ho Yo Ho… well, you know the rest

Filed under: — stan @ 10:32 pm

Today was a holiday for Pasadena schools and also for people who work for the government. So that meant another trip to Disneyland. This time it was me, Kathleen, Lucinda, and Lucinda’s friend London.

When we got there, we headed for Lucinda’s favorite ride: California Screamin’. We rode it twice before lunch and twice more afterward.

After that, the girls decided it was time to go to Disneyland. So we walked over and rode the Matterhorn. Then we went and got Fast Passes so the girls could drive the Autopia cars. They were not good for a bit more than an hour, so we split up. Kathleen and I bit the proverbial bullet and stood in line for Space Mountain. The ride must have broken down briefly while we were in the line, since we spent a lot of time standing in one spot. And even the Fast Pass line got long. But they got it running again and we got on. It was still fun.

When we got out, it was time for the girls to drive at Autopia. Lucinda was very pleased to see that she’d grown enough to drive. So they went off to do that and Kathleen and I took a monorail ride. When we got back, the girls were done driving, but they wanted to go again. Since we’d gotten four passes, they could do that. This time, we just stayed nearby to watch them on the ride. We also got to see a kid barf. It was just like being in a John Waters movie.

By now it was close to getting dark. So we went back to California Adventure and rode California Screamin’ one more time. Then the girls rode the Silly Symphony Swings a couple of times before we called it a day.

We all walked over the Downtown Disney. Sadly, our traditional restaurant was booked up solid, so we had to find a Plan B. The Uva Bar and Cafe had an outdoor area that wasn’t crowded, and we had a patio heater, so it wasn’t bad at all. So we had a nice dinner there before heading home.

It was a very fun day.

The rest of the pictures are in Lucinda’s photo album.

2/6/2011

Macho Like Me

Filed under: — stan @ 8:29 pm

macho like me
This afternoon, Kathleen and I went over to West Hollywood to see Helie Lee’s solo show, “Macho LIke Me.” This is her story of frustration at how she was treated as a woman, and her decision to try living for six months as a man to see if it was better.

She started out the experiment with the idea that being a man had to be better, but she found that it came with a whole different set of limitations. And of course, there were a lot of funny stories along the way.

This was a tremendously entertaining show.

1/14/2011

The Loose Chanteuse

Filed under: — stan @ 11:17 pm

Tonight Kathleen and I went with my friend Nick to see Varla Jean Merman in her new show, “The Loose Chanteuse” at a little nightclub in Silver Lake. This was her first time back in Los Angeles since we went to see her “Varla Jean Merman Loves a Foreign Tongue” show back in 2008.

One special bit of strange was that her show was sponsored by Fleet, and so, like Oprah, everyone there got a little box of Fleet enemas. And after the show, Varla held court at the top of the stairs, greeting fans and signing all the enema boxes. It was all very surreal, and weird in a very funny way. It was a very fun evening.

Page 20 of 47« First...10«1819202122»3040...Last »

Powered by WordPress